Outdoor Marketing is a mess in Zambia! Go mobile!!!

Mobile Marketing has vast applications.
Mobile Marketing has vast applications.

Marketing as you know it can never be the same. Mobile devices have overtaken Zambia. With more than 60% of the population owning a device, one fails to understand why our beautiful cities are cluttered with outdoor advertising — visual pollution.

By the end of 2013, there will be more mobile devices on Earth than people! – CISCO 2013.

Got your attention now… I thought as much…so here goes Mobile Marketing 101.
If more than 70% of Zambians access the Internet via mobile devices and spend more time on their mobile devices than they do reading newspapers or watching television, then surely our marketing people are missing something here. Just watch a group of teenagers anywhere and invariably one is on a mobile device whilst the others chatter away. Look at your kids in your own living room, those old enough will be on these devices doing whatever it is teenagers do. They are not out there driving on the road being assaulted by ugly outdoor signage that are so numerous you cannot even remember the message on it unless you think hard. Maybe the traffic jams in Lusaka presented an opportunity for the blinding electronic screens we see at the traffic circles.
Let us help you with the basic ABC’s to get you to think more mobile and less outdoor. Here are 3 pointers to get you going:

1. Social media. Love it or hate it. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest are going to be around for a very long time. Long after the bill board metal has rusted on the Ndola Kitwe dual carriageway because of no takers. Here are three positive things social media can do for you

  • It’s completely free to share and interact with your customers. The majority have a social media signature and would love to hear from you on their turf, their terms and their grounds.
  •  It is a huge opportunity to bring in non-users and take them through to be ambassadors of your brand, product or service. All you have to do is share relevant and engaging content. Who cares whether or not you have freebies, tell me what you can do for me.
  •  You get to customize your advertisements and corporate communication to talk to customers in a language, tone of voice and figure of speech, which they can relate to. You bring your brand, product and service to the customer, not forcing the customer to comply with what is acceptable standard Queensbury rules communication offered by outdoor media.

Of course like all roses there must be some thorns, which you need to be wary about. If your content is weak it can be difficult to stand out. Content marketing comes into play, and he who has the best content is king in the digital space more so on mobile. There is a lot of information out there and what you put out must be attractive or it just gets lost in the www. To grab that attention away from  the window, TV, newspaper or desktop, you will need something more than just a few quick, cut+paste words and photos. The medium is also transparent and keeps no secrets. What you say or put out there the whole world knows.


2. Mobile websites. This is marketing 101 in today’s day and age, but surprisingly there are a significant number of Zambian businesses that don’t have one. If they do it is poorly managed and forgotten about almost the same day it was set up. The information is outdated and the curators have long since left the company for greener pastures. But if you do have one take time to ask yourself how your customers are engaging and interacting with the website. Is it designed for mobile devices or still the old desktop. Does the page open within 5 seconds. If the answer is yes to the above then here are some real positives you derive from a good mobile website:

  • It helps people discover your website. The about us tab on the home page is great. It pouts the names and faces from behind the scenes to the forefront. It unveils the identity and persona of the company. It allows you to sell your brand and flaunt whatever it is you would like to say about yourself.
  • It opens the world to you and extends your reach and online visibility beyond the traffic circle and passersby. On line search rankings improve and you get a chance to use analytics more about who your audience is.


Of course if you’re just getting started there will be a cost to it. You will need help in design and layout and would probably need to hire a curator or engage a third party to assist. Zambia has got talent and all this is available locally at very affordable prices. Remember a poorly built site is just as good as not having one; in fact it may even be worse.


3. Text messaging. You’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. The proverbial pioneer of mobile marketing still works. In Zambia we have companies offering this service and advertising heavily on morning radio. Needless to say the mobile networks sometimes flog this to death with unsolicited messages of little or no relevance. However, not everybody has a smart phone to handle social media and websites. But there are at least 8 million plus mobile devices that can handle SMS in Zambia. Text messaging can be an annoying and an intrusive way to advertise. We want to focus on creating mobile marketing that customers are attracted to and actually want to interact with, not methods that drive them away.

Some goodness about text messages:

  •  Almost all texts are opened and read. So have something nice to say. Remember it is called SMS (Short Message Service) not LMS or anything else. Short and sweet with a call to action works wonders. Boring and mundane will not cut it. It also just safe to be grammatically correct, and please spell check.
  • It is quick and easy to use. All mobile phones have this feature and all network operators offer the service as standard on any package or tariff plan.
  • When you abuse this service it is sometimes viewed as “spam” and customers really become irate. When messages are delivered at inappropriate times this really kills your brand. Worst still when the content is irrelevant and the targeting of customers wrong this can have serious negative implications. Use sparingly, stringently and correctly or it will be expensive both in cost of the SMS as well as brand repair.

With those 3 pointers you are well on your way to reducing visual pollution and maximizing that hard earned advertising spend to get you the meaningful impact you deserve. It also helps to call the experts and get some fresh thinking into your grand ideas for Marketing.

Image Credits: qliqtag.com/brettreland.com